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OR Interfaith Summit Blazes Local Paths to End Homelessness

June 24, 2010

SALEM, Ore. - Just as the newest data was released showing a jump in the number of homeless people statewide, Gov. Kulongoski has approved another round of budget cuts that will trim human services, including affordable housing funding. Today, a coalition of nonprofit and faith groups meets with government representatives in Salem to determine how they might work together to stretch limited resources.

Rick Crager, deputy director, Oregon Housing and Community Services, says at least two major homeless assistance programs will receive less money.

"We're looking at about a half-million dollar cut to our current biennial budget. More than ever, we're really going to need the help of our local partners."

At least, Crager says, the state's financial crisis is prompting new and creative ways to address the problems. The Obama Administration has also just released "Opening Doors," a federal plan to prevent homelessness, although Crager says Oregon groups haven't heard enough about it yet to know how it will help them.

Crager, who will speak at today's Interfaith Summit on Child and Family Homelessness, says local and faith groups can be of particular help in serving the growing number of homeless families with children.

"In looking at the data closely, of those children that were counted, 801 of them had been homeless for more than a year, and 229 had been homeless for more than two years."

The statistics Crager cites are from the annual one-night homeless count taken in January 2010, in which about one-third of those counted in Oregon were children. The Interfaith Summit is being held at the 1st United Methodist Church, 600 State St., Salem.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR